Above or Below – Condominium Etiquette

Above and Below picMost condominium owners know that they own their units “fee simple” which is kind of like owning a single family home attached to other single family homes. What you do within your own “four walls” is your business and nobody else’s (unless you are making excessive noise, disregarding usage rules, etc.)

Most condominiums also have at least 2 stories which means that there are upstairs and downstairs neighbors for everyone. Depending upon whether you are on the ground floor, top floor or somewhere in between, it’s important to be aware or the effect your actions can have on your neighbors.

If you have a unit directly below you, common courtesy dictates that you not be excessively noisy – especially on wood, tile or laminate flooring – since sound travels more than most people realize. High heels on uncarpeted floors, even pets (and kids) racing down hallways can become very annoying without you even realizing it.

You also need to be aware that leaks from an overflowing sink, tub or shower or even a leaking hot water tank can go down several floors beneath you and cause a great deal of damage for which you will be held responsible.

Another issue can be with toilets or kitchen sink disposals being overloaded and causing leaks of whatever went into the toilet or disposal that can damage the pipes and get into units below.

Condominium living is really an exercise in common courtesy as well as common sense so everyone can enjoy their home equally!

“Condominium Living is a Special Way of Life – Condominium Marketing is My Specialty!”

© Anna Novikoff 2016

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How Safe Is Your Condominium Complex?

How Safe Is Your Condominium Complex? How Secure Is Your Condo pic

If you live in a condominium complex with a lobby or entrance to common hallways that is accessed with a key, fob or a code, or if you have secured parking with a secure entry to the complex, listen up!

Do you or have you seen other residents leave the entry door open, buzz in someone without even asking who it is or maybe give out the entrance code? How about that old favorite, holding the door open for someone you don’t know coming in behind you… Have you seen real estate agents holding an Open House and buzzing in visitors from the unit that is for sale? The “visitor” is then free to roam the hallways and possibly cause trouble – never having intended to visit the Open House in the first place.

Any one of these actions can make it easy for a thief or someone with “not the best of intentions” to rob or injure you or your neighbor or worse! As a REALTOR®, I see entry codes printed in Agent Details even when buyers sometimes see that version of the listing information – especially when most condo complexes specify that the code not be given out! Lobby keys can be in the keybox but the code should not be public knowledge.

Even in the safest of areas, everyone needs to be mindful of safety for not just themselves but for their fellow condominium owners as well.

Here’s the answer to last week’s Condo Quiz which was “What Size Is Your Condo Unit?”

Condo Quiz ArtQ: What Size Is Your Condo Unit?

Please watch the video below as I share with you what to do!

Follow me on Facebook July Condo Quiz Question

“Condominium Living is a Special Way of Life – Condominium Marketing is My Specialty!”

Stay tuned for the next Condo Quiz!
© Anna Novikoff 2016

Selling With Baggage 

Selling with Baggage picSo you’ve decided that it’s time to sell your condominium home because you’ve heard that there might be a Special Assessment in the works. Now, if you can just get it sold before the assessment is due!

Sounds simple enough but there’s more to the process than you might think. Did you know that when you do find a buyer, you are required to provide a Resale Certificate (prepared by the management company) and in most cases, other Homeowner Association documents, like HOA meeting minutes for up to 2 years as well as the current budget, a Reserve Study and other information that will explain what the Special Assessment is for, when it will be implemented and how much your unit will be assessed?

Now imagine that you are the buyer. Would you want to buy a unit at fair market value with a Special Assessment of several thousand dollars or (possibly much more) due after you close? Most buyers would say “no” unless they are getting either a lower price to make up for the future assessment amount or having the seller pay the entire assessment at or before the closing.

As to the Special Assessment amount, there are several stages to the process that may cause a buyer to have a problem being approved for a mortgage – even if the seller agrees to pay it at escrow or before. If the cost of the repairs haven’t been estimated but are just in the planning stage, lenders have no way of knowing if the eventual assessed amount for the buyer will be more than they can qualify to pay for in addition to their monthly mortgage cost or not. The same holds true once the repairs have started since in many cases, other items in need of repair may be found once the work starts, that weren’t originally apparent, which may ultimately add to the assessment amount.

Any way you look at it, unplanned costs aren’t fun but they are a part of home ownership. For a single family home, the furnace may break and need replacing or the roof may start to leak. In that case, the homeowner has to foot the bill alone while in a condominium, the costs are split between all owners based on their percentage of common ownership.

“Condominium Living is a Special Way of Life – Condominium Marketing is My Specialty!”

© Anna Novikoff 2016

It’s Time to Redecorate the Common Areas. Now What?

Time to redecorate common areas picJust as with single family homes, the time eventually comes for condominium owners in complexes with amenities and common areas to re-decorate. This is usually due to age and/or condition of hallway carpeting, lobby furnishings, equipment obsolescence in “business centers” and other areas that buyers or visitors see when they initially come to see units for sale.

Lobbies are the first impression that most people see which can set the tone or level of expectation for the entire complex. If the décor and furnishings are dated or damaged, this “first impression” is hard to change – even if the unit they are looking to possibly purchase has been totally updated. Longtime residents may not realize this as they have become accustomed to – and comfortable with – the status quo however buyers, especially a younger demographic, may assume that the look and condition really doesn’t reflect the amount they are being asked to pay for a unit or their lifestyle.

Once the HOA and Bd. of Directors decide that it’s time to update, what’s the best way to proceed? Although most Bd. members may think that it’s just a matter of their personal decorating taste (and everyone has an opinion…), the first thing that should be taken into account should be deciding who the current demographic profile is of residents and also who has been buying into the complex in the past couple of years. Advice from a couple of REALTORS who do a lot of business in the complex is very helpful in setting the parameters of the project. If “30 somethings” are buying in and Baby Boomers are selling, an update to the business center, if there is one, would certainly be in order. WIFI, desktop computer(s), fax, printing and scanning equipment should be able to handle the current level of activity.

In order to decide on décor and style for the common areas, a visit to other condo complexes that are new construction or have recently been redone is definitely helpful. Another way to do this is to look at available listings online in these buildings since there are usually pictures of these areas. Of course, if your complex is built with a more traditional style, ie: crown moldings, columns, anything interesting or unique, it’s best to highlight those instead of trying to fit ultra modern décor into what you already have.

You might want to contact a stager for some advice as well. They aren’t all interior decorators but they do see what other condominiums have done and are a good starting point for color, furniture style, etc. and probably much less costly than a full interior decoration recommendation.

Once these parameters (and a budget) have been researched and discussed, the best way forward is to decide on 2-3 design recommendations for the full package to be presented to the Bd. or HOA for a vote. Much like “color plates” in new construction, these recommendations would be for whatever items are to be replaced, like carpet, paint color for hallways, furniture for party or recreation room, business center items, etc. as a group. Each would have a total price tag and would make it much easier to decide upon than having everyone feel obligated to express their preferences for individual items.

Keep in mind that the common areas and amenities should reflect EVERYONE’S taste and comfort and be done in the best way possible to create a ”first impression” that will make future buyers want to be a part of your condominium community!

“Condominium Living is a Special Way of Life – Condominium Marketing is My Specialty!”

© Anna Novikoff 2016